Into the second week of the lockdown(India). Past few days have been an experience that serves as a teaser (and of course it’s nothing as compared to what will follow), for how work is going to resume after offices and workplaces open. Today’s article is an attempt to understand and uncover how Covid 19 will impact our work culture.
Today morning I heard Even UN Secretary General has stated that Covid 19 is the worst catastrophe since the Second World War. Even the United States has predicted via the test model that possibly there could be 2.4 lakh casualties in the states itself (in the worst case).
Forgive me for reminding you but this is the US, the best country in the world. It has announced a budget of 2 trillion dollars to help itself fight the deadly disease. Put that with our country, India which has a GDP which is valued at 2.94 trillion dollars (India). This is a serious issue. One that I have and our generation is witnessing. It’s our duty to follow all guidelines then issued by our government. To put it very bluntly there is no other way. Everyone should practice social distancing and stay put in their houses. If there was a way the world would have figured out by now.
Anyway moving ahead,
Yes, there is going to be changes in organisational work culture around the world. Since, the Service sector contributes to about 54 percent to our GDP and it is here that most of the educated middle class seems to thrive or persist. When we imagine working then we imagine an office workplace. An air conditioned workplace with a cafeteria and other facilities. But think deeper there could be a workplace where people are knitting clothes, some are working on farms, some in a factory, others in a mill etc. The impact will be variable in terms of magnitude and scale in different workplaces.
Changes you can expect in workplace in offices,
There can be new regulations regarding changes in workplaces. Particularly when talking about workplaces like offices and centralised workplaces can expect more personalised places or cubicles replacing conjoined places, structurally. There can be a shift in way meetings are conducted with more emphasis on digital conferencing. One can expect formalisation of socialisation in offices. One could expect more flexible timings with offices running round the clock. This will maintain and restrict a lesser number of employees at a given point. There could also be change in work hours.
We can expect a decrease in use of public transport. Since, the virus thrives and infects people at places where there is a larger congregation of people. It is likely that public transportation will suffer. Buses and metros will be avoided. More people are likely to travel via their own vehicles. However, there will likely be an increase in people travelling from Uber, Ola etc. But, carpools will be avoided. This can increase more traffic on roads.
More people will be employed as based on flexible and temporary contracts. One can also expect globally that the aftermath of the pandemic, big multinational might move towards blurring the distinction between fixed and contract employees. There will be a rise in platform workers. There will be an increase in fixed term contract employees and freelance workers. The startups employ freelance workers.
Work from home,
For work from home to work depends largely on the behaviour or persons and the nature of work they perform. For example a job which requires a person to talk and manage clients via telephony might see work from home happen for them. For others who work in factories and manufacturing sector work from home would not be possible. However, in such places there could be an increase in automation. Managing and coordinating tasks can be opted for work from home.
But, there are some issues regarding oversight, general motivation to work, home environment not conducive to working, distractions, poor discipline enforcement etc will be challenges both company heads and the HR would have to deal with.
A new workplace = A new reality,
We would have to learn to work at places usually where we don’t imagine ourselves working. We would be working on the go, connected by our devices more and less to the physical world. Yes, are going more digital than ever. We would prefer to order our food than rather go out to eat with our office colleagues or even to a restaurant. We would be ordering for services at our homes rather than going out to enjoy those services. In essence the world will be more digitally present than ever before.
Many strategies are being worked out even now. This helps to manage disruptions caused by the pandemic in general working of companies and organizations. Digital platforms are encouraged and promoted to manage through or even sail through such times of uncertainty. We might just be unknowingly be preparing ourselves for a new type of reality.
Read also Covid 19 and mental health
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